If you’re like me, you like finding the best possible deal for travel vacations. In today’s online world, even a few button clicks could save hundreds or thousands of dollars on a trip. That’s why I’m always scouting as many sites as possible before finalizing my trip.
In this article, I will be breaking down the top Expedia alternatives for travel. That way, if you don’t like the deals you’re getting on Expedia, you can look at other websites to see if there is anything better going on.
What is Expedia?
Oddly enough, Expedia started as a division of Microsoft back in 1996. Three years later, it spun off and became its own company. The word “Expedia” was intended to be a blend of “exploring” and “speed,” as the purpose of the company was to help customers find travel deals as quickly as possible.
The company first blew up after listing an ad in the Wall Street Journal that claimed customers could book travel the “same way travel agents did.” The website’s main purpose was to book air, hotel, and car reservations online- a revolutionary idea when travel agents dominated the industry.
Today the company does over $8 billion annually in revenue and has over 14,000 employees worldwide.
They are currently headquartered in Seattle, Washington, and own several other popular travel websites, namely Orbitz, Travelocity, and Travelscape. You could probably recognize them from their catchy ad campaigns during Superbowls.
What to Look for in a Travel Shopping Website
Before we start listing alternatives to Expedia, let’s glance at my criteria for a solid travel shopping website.
Ease of Use
The first thing I always look for is ease of use. Many travel websites, with pop-ups, multiple tabs, and competing prices, tend to get overly complicated. I always favor websites that are simple and to the point.
A good test is opening the homepage and entering your trip details. If the proceeding page is so overwhelming you’re not sure where to begin, it might mean you need to look at another website.
As a photographer, I’m a sucker for a website with gorgeous photos. It’s truly mind-blowing how beautiful a well-crafted photo can make a destination look instead of a crappy iPhone photo with a magenta filter.
Therefore if I see good photography, I can be assured the company is passionate about travel and giving the customer the best experience possible. Plus, I’m more likely to book a hotel that looks better on paper.
The more details that can be listed up front, the better. Now, I realize that this contradicts my statement above about ease of use. If there’s too much going on, it can be a real turn-off.
However, there are ways to organize a website that can make it much easier to intake data. For example, giving space for the user to scroll can make a big difference. Not everything has to be displayed on the first page you see.
As a fairly tech-savvy person, customer service isn’t too much of an issue for me. I can usually figure out how to do everything on my own.
However, if someone goes wrong, it is nice to know that the travel website’s customer service team will be there to back me up. This is especially important when the website is making reservations on my behalf.
Sometimes problems can arise where the hotel wants me to pay extra fees on the spot that I thought was covered by the website. A solid customer service team can help make these issues significantly easier, especially when you’re supposed to be on vacation.
If you’re a person who travels frequently, a rewards program may be of benefit to you when sticking to a travel site. Many of these programs are similar to travel miles programs on airplanes, where you’ll build up points to spend later.
If you show loyalty to a particular company, you’ll inevitably build up some free flights or hotels.
A great example is Hotels.com’s program, where you’ll get a free “reward night” for every 10 nights you stay somewhere. With today’s prices, this could potentially save you hundreds of dollars down the road.
Top Expedia Alternatives for Travel
Although Expedia is a solid travel website, many comparable alternatives might fit your style more. And who knows… You might even find a better deal!
TripAdvisor actually started purely as a social media review website for attractions, hotels, and restaurants. Over the years, it built up over a billion reviews and became one of the most reliable websites online for travel information.
Today, you can use the website to book hotels, vacation rentals, activities, airlines, cruises, rental cars, and more. It really is an all-in-one destination for travel.
One thing I like to do is look for the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award before booking a certain destination. This allows me to ensure the trip will be worth it.
- Backed by over 1 billion user-created reviews
- The certification program is a reliable guide
- Famous “attractions” are often simply hotels/restaurants. It’d be nice if they included more natural destinations
Expedia owns Orbitz, but it’s still its website and brand, so that I will list it as a valid alternative. I would argue that its greatest strength is that a group of airline companies initially organized it, so it’s very effective at finding good-priced flights. In addition to that, Orbitz also can help with car rentals, packages, and cruises.
However, you’ll find that, for the most part, Orbitz is fairly similar in pricing compared to Expedia. I still would keep an eye on both sites, though. Sometimes, hotel chains or flights run specials that only exist on one website.
- Built by a group of airline companies
- Solid reward program
- Is essentially the smaller shadow of Expedia
If you’re looking purely to rent hotels and cars, Hotels.com is the company for you. Notorious for its “Every 10th Night Is Free” rewards program, it’s no wonder people use this website to rack up deals.
My favorite part is how much detail they go into about each hotel… You’ll see information about every detail you can think of- from parking to maps to reviews.
It’s also got a high rating for user experience on both the website and its apps and has a fairly solid customer service department. However, that benefit seems to come at a cost, as their prices are slightly higher than most of the competition.
- One of the best reward programs in the business
- A good choice if you’re looking for a specific hotel
- Can be a bit pricier to book through
Priceline is one of the biggest competitors to Expedia, and for a good reason. Even though the company is generally a bit small in scale, its ratings pack a punch.
The best bet to get a deal on the site is to join its free loyalty program, Priceline VIP. Once inside, you’ll get access to prices that are often cheaper than Expedia. Along with exclusive hotels that are only available through Priceline.
Another major difference between Priceline and Expedia is their method of obtaining rates and inventory. Priceline built its system for rates and inventory instead of connecting to the Global Distribution System.
This means they only charge hotels a commission after the customer stays instead of charging upfront. This allows them more flexibility to give better rates.
- Its free loyalty program takes their prices to the next level
- Significantly better customer service
- A smaller company, which means you’ll have a smaller network of hotels to choose from
Kayak is a travel shopping website specializing in flights, hotels, and car rentals. My favorite thing about Kayak is how simple the user interface is on the website and the app.
They also have a great “Price Alerts” feature where you can get notifications in the background when prices change for a particular destination. This saves you lots of time, so you don’t have to keep checking the prices.
Kayak also has a great feature called “Hacker Fares,” which can significantly affect your flights’ prices. It pairs separate airlines together if there’s a connection to get you the best fare. Truly a game-changer for flights.
- Simple user interface
- The price alerts feature can save you lots of time
- Refunds must be done directly through the company Kayak books for you, which can be difficult to deal with
Scott’s Cheap Flights
If you’re an incredibly flexible traveler, Scott’s Cheap Flights might be an option you consider. It’s essentially an email list where you can save up to 90% on last-minute deals worldwide.
The catch is that you’ll generally have to be able to pack up and leave within a few days- if not hours. These flights are so cheap because the airlines have no choice but to try to fill them as fast as possible or lose money.
The only step is to choose which airports you want to see deals from, enter your email address, then wait for the deals to start rolling in.
- Massive deals on flights to anywhere in the world
- Simply check your email inbox to see details
- Little choice on where you’re going, and you’ll have to be able to pack up and leave quickly
Frequently Asked Questions
Answer: Although they are two different brands, Expedia and Orbitz are owned by the parent company Expedia Group. Orbitz was acquired in 2015 for $1.6 billion. You’ll find that they each have their own reward perks, but in general, Expedia has better deals for flights while Orbitz has better deals for hotels.
Answer: Each travel website has its own perks that can make it cheaper than the others. I would say the best strategy is to check all of the websites simultaneously to get a comparison for travel.
Also, keep in mind that loyalty to a particular website could save you more money in the long run. For example, if you constantly book through Hotels.com, you’ll get a free night every 10 nights you stay somewhere.
Answer: In today’s worth, it’s cheaper to book flights online. If you go through a travel agent, you’ll often pay a commission fee for the flights. However, hiring a travel agent might be the best option if you’re on a time crunch and don’t want to do the daily research to get the best deal.
The best trick to finding deals on travel fares is to check as many of these websites as possible for a consistent deal. They fluctuate so rapidly that there’s no “one website” that’s the best for deals 24/7.
However, if you’re looking for the best user experience, I would argue that Kayak is my favorite website to start. It’s clean, to the point, and can give you great “Travel Hacks” and price alerts to keep you in the know about the best deals.
My next favorite travel shopping website would have to be Scott’s Cheap Flights because I’m impulsive and not married to any destination. I’ve found that some of the best vacations are unplanned.
I hope this article has been helpful to you in determining some travel shopping website alternatives for Expedia. Have fun out there!
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